Thursday, March 5, 2015

Weber Iago 4tet + Quatuor Thais : "Navegante"

No, I didn't give up jazz for lent.

Weber Iago - piano, composition
Pierre Bernard - flute
Henri Greindl - bass
Tonio Reina - drums

Quatuor Thaïs :
Caroline Bayet - 1st violin
Virginie Petit - 2nd violin
Wendy Ruymen - viola
Cathy Adam - cello

Update:  "O outro lado do teu sonho"

Hate Mail File

It's always hard to know when to drop a topic as important as how liberals can regain political power so we can stop corporate fascism and maybe keep the world from frying, either in a nuclear exchange or through global warming. 

It could have been worse, I could have told you what I ate for lunch and dissed Lennon again. Actually, I found this recipe for dairy free cabbage perogies.....  

"Merely Christianity in action. It recognizes the equality in men." Eugene Debs

Beyond personal differences lay the critical question of the meaning and validity of a class analysis of American society.  As [Victor] Berger, Heath, and some of the Massachusetts members groped toward a more orthodox position, one that took Marx and Engels seriously, the majority in the party, including Debs, remained rooted in an older, classless vision of society.   In an editorial in November 1897 the Social Democrat urged caution in preaching class consciousness, as it may "do mischief."  It "is a good servant but a bad master.  Socialism is something more than a mere labor question.  It is a demand for equalizing of burdens nd equslizing of benefits throughout the whole society.  Class consciousness for the laboring man is safe where it is made part of a high moral demand in the interests of society as a complete organism and not of one class only."  Noting that many earlier Socialist activists and thinkers, from Ferdinand Lassalle and Marx to John Ruskin and Karle Liebknect, came from the middle class, the official paper of the party concluded:  "An effective American Socialist Party must ... make its campaign on the highest moral grounds.  We must not make socialism obnoxious to the people."  

Wayland, editor of the popular Appeal to Reason, expressed this idea more succinctly.  "There should be but one class of people,"  he wrote, " a working class, men and women doing useful things required for a high state of civilization."  But, as would be the case in years to come as well, Debs, himself, best expressed the gulf that existed between Berger's theory and, a more traditional American approach.  Speaking in Newark,  New Jersey, he asked rhetorically,   "What is Socialism?"  His answer frustrated Berger:  "Merely Christianity in action.  It recognizes the equality in men."

Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist  By Nick Salvatore

The academic writing over the religious thought of Eugene Debs might make a good case study for the extent to which ideological predisposition determines what is said about history by whom.   The passage I typed out is within a really fascinating study of the early years of Socialism as a political party and movement in the United States and, itself, is a good place to look as to how Socialism which was inspired by irrelevant and uncharacteristic assumptions and observations failed to take hold in the United States.   The struggle over the mind of the very popular Eugene Debs and the failure of even the pragmatic Victor Berger to understand that Debs' own socialism was founded on the traditional values of American liberalism and so could be counted on to be more acceptable to Americans than European Marxism could probably tell us a lot more about how to make progress instead of repeating mistakes.

As Salvatore points out,  Debs made some rather large concessions to those such as Berger in order to make organizing possible, I strongly suspect that a lot of what he said about Christianity was crafted with that in mind.   Liberal Christians have, generally, been more flexible in asserting their thoughts than Marxists have been.  I'm not sure that wasn't a bad idea, in itself and am confident there isn't anything to be gained by making concessions to their descendants, the neo-atheists who offer nothing but the stalemated failure of the atheist left.

The extent to which Debs was trying to modify his presentation of Jesus, The Supreme Leader in 1914 to convince the scientific-materialists in the movement to tone down the anti-Christian rhetoric is worth considering.  I get the feeling that he was doing a sort of tight-rope act which I don't think he found entirely convincing, himself.  If he was a Christian, as I believe he was, is unknowable though I am certain that the often encountered de-Christianized Debs is false, an ideological distortion, itself.

While I can't read the paper due to it being behind a pay wall, I did find this abstract interesting.

Eugene Debs underwent a transformation over the course of his life that compelled him to replace a brand of unionism rooted in nationalism with a variant of socialism based on internationalism. As a trade and industrial unionist, Debs employed American political traditions linked to citizenship to attack the inequality and injustice engendered by corporations. After he became a socialist, however, Debs seriously questioned the values of citizenship and the heritage of the American Revolution, ultimately transcending the ideological framework he had utilized as a unionist. Previous historians have missed this shift in Debs's thought because they have presented his Christianity as an extension of his preoccupation with citizenship and the American Revolution. Debs emerged from a republican tradition, but his concern with the fate of humanity led him to substitute his earlier focus on American citizenship with the interests of a worldwide civilization. This process of growth caused Debs to elevate socialism in order to denigrate capitalism, exchange the particular virtues of independence and liberty for the universal values of interdependence and brotherhood, and swap the founding fathers and their revolution for Jesus and his revolutionary gospel. In the end, Debs was more concerned with perfecting the internationalist goals of civilization than the nationalist values of citizenship, and he believed that the perfection of humanity endorsed by Christianity was also the overarching goal of socialism.

Anyone who doesn't think that would have been entirely more likely to succeed as an American socialism than the dialectical materialism of Marx doesn't know the first thing about Americans or, I would argue, people anywhere in the world. One of the conflicts between Victor Berger and Eugene Debs in the late 1890s was based on Berger's security in his own intellectual superiority based in his superior knowledge of Marx and Engels (see Salvatore's book linked to for details).  I think as a political matter, he was wrong about that.  I suspect he learned as much as time went on and practical politics took over from sterile theorizing.

But there was a deeper conflict within Marx, between his genuine horror at the violent and cruel treatment of workers, his desires to improve the lot of working people in the brutal 19th century industrial capitalism and his own intellectual pride and pretensions based in the scientism and atheism common to his intellectual class.   Nothing in his materialism could be found that asserted that the working poor had any right to have a better life, to be treated as more than industrial raw material used and expended for the maximization of profit, exactly the means to which they have been put by most of the "Marxist" governments which have ever gained control over a country, one of the major sources of the rejection of communism by any informed group and, in fact, by those who lived under those regimes as soon as they could get rid of them.

If socialism had not taken that course and had followed something more in line with Eugene Debs' original, pre-indoctrination, pre-compromise concept, things might have been entirely different.

Communists Deserved The Distrust Of The Left

While it is always a huge mistake in politics to subject the past and present to the reductionist processes of both pseudo-science and romanticism, it's interesting to look at the position of the Socialist Party in the period just before, under orders from Lenin, it was destroyed by the communists in it and outside of it.

The book The Long Detour by James Weinstein is one of the better analyses of how the left went so wrong in the 20th century.  While I think Weinstein isn't without his faults, he avoided many of the worst examples of both wishful thinking and demonization of opponents.  That given he seems to have shared the far too common habit of not understanding the central role that religion, and especially Christianity have played in any successful political movement.  I, of course, think that is one of the central defects of the would-be scientific left and among its strongest weaknesses.   I will point out that when it comes to the Christian left, there isn't a reciprocal rejection of what science can legitimately tell us about the physical world, though there is, generally, a more sophisticated appreciation for the limits of where science can really do what it does.  Weinstein certainly should have known that, considering the real presence of Christian socialists in the Socialist Party, more about which, later.

With that reservation, here's what he says about the rise of the old Socialist Party, not to be confused with many other "parties" which called themselves "socialist" and acted in ways that only brought discredit to the word.

After describing the industrialization and modernization going on in the late 19th century and early 20th,  Weinstein said:

These developments marked a major step in the maturing of American capitalism.  They were reflected also in the coming of age of social and political movements representing the interests of workers and farmers, among which was the creation of the Socialist Party.  Even when socialism burst onto the political landscape as a bona fide American movement, however, its greatest strength did not reside in numbers.  Indeed, socialism was a relatively minor player in the panoply of farmers, workers, and middle-class businessmen and professionals who formed the social base of the Populist and Progressive movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries.

Still, the new party did grow rapidly.  By 1912, its defense of working people and its democratic vision permeated all ranks of society and provided much of the yeast for the intellectual ferment of the time.  From this mix of social forces and ideologies, the Socialists emerged as the most enduring organized group.  To many of those who had not followed the arcane course of the sectarian left, the popularity of this new movement came as a shocking surprise. 

Within ten years of the party's founding, more than 100,000 members were paying dues each month, and there probably were an equal number of sporadic adherents.  By 1912, when Debs received 900,000 votes for president, Victor Berger had been elected to Congress from Milwaukee, seventy-four municipalities throughout the country had elected Socialist mayors, and 340 cities and towns had elected more than 1,200 lesser Socialist officials.  In the American Federation of Labor, too - despite president Samuel Gomper's hostility and the influence of the Catholic Church's anti-Socialist Militia of Christ - one-third of the federations international affiliates had elected Socialist presidents.  Still, in the years before the United States entered the first World War, Socialists elected only two men to the House of Representatives.

Agrarian progressives had done much better.  They had elected hundreds to Congress and they had played a major role in initiating reform legislation.  Yet the farmers movements were, on the whole a rearguard defense of their former status, while the Socialists' ideas and programs corresponded to the developmental path of corporate capitalism.  As the living embodiment of socialist principles, the party far surpassed farmers in influencing the corporate transformation of property and market relations during the Progressive Era.  That was the movement's greatest strength and the cause of its wide appeal.

If that would have continued, in some way, if events such as the First World War  and the Wilson administration's suppression of large parts of the Socialist movement as a national security measure during the war hadn't intervened,  isn't knowable.  What is known is that the communists within the Socialist Party, both those who were rather absurdly encouraged by the Russian Revolution or who were, in fact, taking orders from Lenin destroyed the Socialist Party in 1919 when they were unable to rig things to take it over.

I do think that, typical of urbanites, Weinstein is rather dismissive of the political force of farmers and rural folk, considering their importance to both the Democrats and the Republicans as well as their actual role in the Socialist Party's successes he documents.   Debs got more votes in Texas and Oklahoma than he did in New York City.   For more of which, though I don't have it to type out an excerpt, you can see James R. Green, Grass-Roots Socialism: Radical Movements in the Southwest 1895-1943.   It's quite possible that populism - not without its own problems at that point - is a better model for understanding American politics or, at least, represents a crucial ingredient that can't be dismissed out of modernist, urban and, regional snobbery, one of the bigger self-inflicted disabilities of the left and a boon for Republican-fascism.

The Christian left, as well, has proved both more effective and more enduring than even Weinstein in his generous and realistic view was willing to acknowledge.  The Militia of Christ, the one within the AFL, was hardly a reactionary group.  And their reservations about socialism were informed by some already present advocates of violence. And it wasn't quite as vehemently anti-Socialist as all that.  The Rev. Peter Deitz, one of its major figures said:

Catholic opinion stands between the silent but deep-going excesses of the capitalistic society and loud and oftentimes violent demonstrations of socialist democracy. It is difficult to say which of the two extremes is the greater menace to civilization, but I am inclined to think the unregulated capitalism is the greater offender.

The extent to which those communists within the Socialist Party, the ones who would go on to wreck it, accounted for those reservations would be interesting to know, the ones who threw away all of the work that had elected people to offices and were part of a growing political party, a real one that elects people and makes laws, not the make-believe party that chose to be a tool of the Soviet Government even as the Communist Party was forming.   There was every reason for people on the left to distrust the Communists, starting in 1919 but even more so as they developed.  In fact, some of those most suspicious of Communists proved to be their fellow Communists and their rivals in communism.  Defections to both the would-be left and the right, schisms, expulsions over minutia and basic dogma and doctrine and, most often, power rivalries, the myriad of rival split-off parties is pretty much the real history of Communism in America, as elsewhere.

We can't know how history would have turned out if that hadn't happened. It's possible that the Socialists would have been undermined by their success being copied by the Progressives or the Populists due to their success.  However, it was that record of Socialist success that the communists overturned for the ensuing century of total and complete idiocy, treachery, criminality and worship of mass murderers through which the left was weakened and discredited with the large majority of voters.   Yet when leftists look to the history of the left, it is largely the communist - atheist left that it finds presented as that history.

Update:  Why I'm going over the already junked Communist Party is due to the idiotic romanticism over it that is still a damaging delusion of so many on the left and because it is the most important case study in understanding why the left has failed, especially how so many of our natural allies have been turned into our enemies.  As I said earlier this week, I think the current atheist fad is just a continuation of that folly.   By an enormous number, the real left, traditional American style liberalism, is peopled by religious believers, inevitably the large majority of those Christians.  I think the past century and more have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the tiny fraction of atheists has been a burden we have borne out of a misplaced sense of fairness and out of pity for their well-earned rejection and only somewhat less well-earned suppression.   They certainly never hesitated to reject or suppress or oppress others on the left who they saw as their rivals.   We need to get shut of them and their ideological descendants or we will never attract support.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Research Can Be Fun

Here's something fun I found in my search for Communists who have won public office by election in the United States.  I don't know if it's true truth or just comment thread truth but I know the number for the Socialists is right (I checked again).

For the record, here are the break-downs of people in Congress but not representing one of the four major parties we've had (Federalist, Whig, Democrat, Republican). I don't know which of these might also represent socialist parties.

Adams Democrat - 1 (House)
American Laborite - 2 (House)
American Party - 40 (House)
Anti-Jacksonian - 44 (House)
Anti-Mason - 30 (House)
Conservative - 9 (8 House, 1 Senate)
Conservative Republican - 2 (House, Delegate)
Constitutional Unionist - 2 (House)
Democrat Farmer Labor - 3 (House)
Farmer Laborite - 13 (House)
Free Silver - 1 (House, Delegate)
Free Soil - 11 (5 House, 6 Senate)
Greenbacker - 12 (House)
Independent (unaffiliated) - 24 (20 House, 4 Senate)
Independent Democrat - 27 (26 House, 1 Senate)
Independent Radical - 1 (House)
Independent Republican - 15 (14 House, 1 Senate)
Independent Whig - 1 (House)
Jackson Democrat - 1 (House)
Jacksonian - A couple hundred, I'm not going to count them
Law and Order - 1 (House)
Liberal - 1 (House)
Liberal Republican - 9 (6 House, 3 Senate)
Non partisan - 1 (House)
Nullifier - 13 (10 House, 4 Senate; one was in both)
Oppostion - 14 (House)
Populist - 45 (39 House, 6 Senate)
Progressive - 23 (22 House, 1 Senate)
Progressive Republican - 3 (House)
Prohibitionist - 1 (House)
Readjustor - 7 (5 House, 2 Senate)
Silver Republican - 6 (4 House, 2 Senate)
Socialist - 2 (House)
State Rights Democrat - 2 (House)
Unconditional Unionist - 24 (18 House, 6 Senate)
Union Democrat - 2 (House)
Union Laborite - 2 (House)
Union Republican - 4 (House)
Unionist - 51 (40 House, 11 Senate)

It would seem, if this is correct,  even parties you've never heard of have had more success than the Communists.

I did, also, read that under an old system of electing them, there were two Communists voted to the New York City council, though I haven't been able to confirm that.  If that's true, it's not surprising that the Communists would just as soon not mention them.  I mean, if they mentioned them it would bring up the issue of how many Communists had never been elected to office.

Wouldn't you love to know if they got purged by their rivals or the party bosses, fearing a power grab by them.  That's the typical chain of events in the old CP, here and everywhere.  

Hate Mail File

Yeah, let's see, the Communist Party USA  was founded in 1919.   This year is 2015.   I have been looking to find a list of office holders who ran as Communists and who won their elections.  I have yet to find that list and suspect that's because there aren't any.   Anyone out there able to supply it?

Even the Greens, though they hide the list of their office holders because it's such a pathetic record for all of the hype, attention and resources spent on the fraud,  posts a list of people who have held office as Greens, admitting that a lot of those are appointed or those who won in non-partisan races.   

Here's their score board for offices held today.

Seats in the Senate
0 / 100
Seats in the House
0 / 435
0 / 50
State Upper Houses
0 / 1,921
State Lower Houses
0 / 5,410

If you want to see how deluded they are, go look at their website.  They think there's a party where there has never been a party in 96 years.   That's three generations of delusion.  

96 years of total failure in politics, 96 years of usefulness to the reactionaries as a boogy-man and turn off to voters, 96 years of being mostly a fraud, a side show and a massive burden for the real left. Their attacks on others in the left far more effective than anything else they ever did.  I won't ever forget their role in destroying the Socialist Party as their first act.  

Oh, yeah, and that's not to mention their worst stunt, championing mass murderers of the scale of Stalin and jumping at the snap of his finger. Even turning a 180 and supporting rapprochement with Hitler when he and Stalin decided to carve up Poland between them.  Oh, yeah, and Stalin was officially a genius for doing stuff like that. 

Going on a century of that kind of stuff. What's not to love, huh?   A century of fraud, failure and folly is enough for any con game.  It should end, now. 

The Greatest Success In Leftist Politics On America Was Achieved By a Minister Not A Materialist

Every time I go into the history of the atheist "left" as opposed to the real left, the glaring falseness of the phonied up history of the left promoted by them is frustratingly obvious.   If the greatest success of the Marxist-atheist left is their great and widely blared victimization - how many PBS history shows have you ever seen about their successes as opposed to their victimization - their second greatest success is in peddling a ridiculous and false history and ideological set of factoids.

One of the things I will probably be going into is how they destroyed the old Socialist Party which was something the successor Communist - Leninist-Trotskyist-Maoist-etc. successors never were, successful at winning elections and not turning off voters.  The old Socialists under such leaders as Victor Berger were also something that none of the more politically correct Marxists were, successful at governance, doing things that actually improved the lives of people in a democratic context.

One of the greatest virtues of that socialism was that the non-religious socialists worked well with Christian socialists who could be counted on to comprise a majority of any Socialist coalition which could win an election in any city in the country.   The fact is that Milwaukee had probably the most successful Socialist government in the United States,  the successful program of improvements in life derided by those who would never win an election as "sewer socialists".

But even that real - as opposed to total fantasy - success in real governance is quite modest as opposed to the greatest success by a Socialist in American history.  North-American history.  Unfortunately, for us in the United States, at least, the greatest success in leftist governance is not here but in Canada under the leadership of, not an atheist, but a Baptist minister,  Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan, a founder of the New Democratic Party, most famous as the author of the Canadian health care bill.

While the Communists and other famous idiots and bunglers here were destroying the chances of the left, Tommy Douglas was doing something they never did, he won elections and as a result he could do things.  Here's part of what he is credited with.

As Premier of Saskatchewan he presided over the birth of public hospitalization and medicare. Through his five terms as Premier, Douglas pioneered reforms which made Saskatchewan society both progressive and prosperous.

More than 100 bills, 72 of them aimed at social or economic reform, were passed during the CCF's first year in power. By the end of two years, they had removed the sales tax from food and meals and managed to reduce the provincial debt by $20 million.

New departments were established which reflected the government's priorities. These included the new Deparment of Co-operatives, the Department of Labour and the Department of Social Welfare. To pay for the new departments, all the CCF cabinet ministers took a 28 per cent pay cut.

In 1944, pensioners were granted free medical, hospital and dental services, and the treatment of diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis, mental illness and venereal disease was made free for all.

In 1947, Douglas introduced universal hospitalization at a fee of $5 per year per person. "It is paid out of the treasury. Instead of the burden of those hospital bills falling on sick people, it is spread over all the people," Douglas said. In 1959, twelve years later, when the province's finances seemed to him to be strong enough, Douglas announced the coming of the medicare plan. It would be universal, pre-paid, publicly administered, provide high quality care, including preventive care, and be accepted by both providers and receivers of the medical service.

A Crown Corporation Act opened the way to such achievements as provincial air and bus lines. The Timber Board took control of lumbering, so the industry could prosper without destroying the forests. Later, fish and fur marketing boards were established.

However, no Crown corporation had as big an impact during the Douglas years than the Saskatchewan Power Corporation. Prior to the Douglas Administration, only 300 rural households had electrical power. By 1964, 65,000 farm households had been hooked up to the electrical grid built by SaskPower.

SaskTel provided affordable, quality and near universal phone access across the province.

The CCF introduced the Trade Union Act, which made collective bargaining mandatory and extended the rights of civil servants. The Act was described by Walter Reuther as "the most progressive piece of labour legislation on the continent." Other labour legislation set standards for workers' compensation, minimum wages, mandatory holidays and a labour relations board. Union membership rose 118 per cent in just four years.

Building on the 1944 campaign slogan of Humanity First, the first CCF budget devoted 70 per cent of its expenditures to health, welfare and education. School districts were enlarged to a more efficient size; teachers' salaries were raised; the University of Saskatchewan was expanded to include a medical college.

While it could be pointed out that several years into his political career, he was given the ultimatum of continuing to be a Baptist preacher or a politician and that he chose being a politician, the fact is he was a Christian.   I think what he was doing was just finding a different ministry to more people.   While the glorious history of the official "left" in the United States consists mostly of finding out that so and so was actually guilty of the crimes they were convicted of or were, actually, on Stalin's payroll the history of the real Canadian left is such that Tommy Douglas was voted “The Greatest Canadian” in a CBC poll, in 2004, twenty years after his death.   Compare that to those who were always gassing on about how they were going to throw their opponents on the rubbish heap of history.  Which was rubbish and still is.

Sometimes I think they do all those TV shows and movies glamorizing and romanticizing the total idiots, jerks and failures like the anarchists and Communists here so we won't learn about the actual left that worked in history.   Emma Goldman,  John Reed, The Hollywood 10.   They never cleaned up anyone's water or provided them with healthcare or even a decent wage. Even I.F. Stone, the guy I was praising last week was noted to be a real asshole as a boss.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Its Time To Bury The Dead Hands Holding Back Liberals: Your Provocative Idea For Tuesday

Someone complains that I've under counted the largest of the Marxist family of political parties in the Unites States, the Communist Party U.S.A.

Communist Party USA  claimed a membership of 100,000 in 1939 and maintained a membership of over 50,000 until the 1950s.

His citation is for an article in that .... um.... resource, Wikipedia.   As an ongoing Wikipedia refusenik I don't buy their figures as definitive but looking at the article, it is useful for my purposes.  So, just for this post, I will suspend my rule of never using Wikipedia.

100, 000 Communists, at its peak, seventy five years ago, could be compared to which religious denominations had 100,000 or more members that year.  I can't find that information online in the limited amount of time I have this morning but I did find this.

The official count of denominations increased from 186 in 1906 to 256 in 1936, when the Census Bureau stopped counting them. Although the number of denominations at the end of the century is not known, it included about eighty denominations with more than 60,000 members each. Seventy percent of the U.S. population belonged to a religious organization in 1998, up from 41 percent in the early years of the century.

At the end of the century, eight of every ten Americans were Christian, one adhered to another religion, and one had no religious preference. The nonChristians included Jews, Buddhists, and a rapidly growing number of Muslims

When you realize that some of those "about eighty denominations with more than 60,000 members each" included those who counted their members in the tens of millions, the Catholics, the mainstream protestant churches - the decline of which is the largest catastrophe for the active, effective left in the post-war period - and even some denominations you probably haven't ever heard of, it sort of puts the claims of the Communist Party in a very sobering context.

Especially, if you want to use that Wikipedia article, when you consider the decline in Communist Party membership.

Its estimated membership in 1996 was between 4,000 and 5,000.

Reading that, I realized that in all of the many people I have known who bought the self-pitying whining of Communists at their persecution (their greatest accomplishment is their victimization) and defenders of them, no more than a tiny handful have actually been members of the party or even claimed to be communists.  Of those who have declared themselves to be communists who I've known, most of them were not members of any party.

As to the current conditions of the party, today, you can read the pathetic tale presented in the Wiki article.   It is revealingly abbreviated in this sentence.

At its 30th Convention in June 2014, the CPUSA officially dropped Marxism-Leninism from its revised Constitution. While the group continues to uphold Marx, Engels and Lenin in its constitution, its official ideology is now scientific socialism.

Imagine the reaction if a Christian denomination officially dropped Jesus and Paul from its self-definition.

Which brings me to how that article is useful to make my point about the utter and absolute joke that all of those "leftist" parties and their members have been in gaining political office and changing laws for the better.

Here's a list of just the parties, according to faith tradition, given in the article.

Communist Party U.S.A.
Socialist Labor Party

Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Party for Socialism and Liberation
Progressive Labor Party
Revolutionary Communist Party
Workers World Party

Freedom Socialist Party
Socialist Action
Socialist Workers Party [With fewer than one thousand members in 1996, the Socialist Worker's Party (SWP) was the second largest Marxist-Leninist party in the United States.]
Spartacist League
Workers International League


Social Democrats, USA
Democratic Socialists of America
Socialist Party USA
Socialist Alternative

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
Food Not Bombs
Northeastern Federation of Anarchist Communists (NEFAC)
Bring the Ruckus
Phoenix Anarchist Coalition
Local to Global Justic
IndyMediaWorkers Solidarity Alliance
Area Radical Reading Group of Hartford (ARRGH!)\
Anarchist Black Cross
Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives (FRAC)
Anarchist Communitarian Network
Anarchist People of Color
Atlantic Anarchist Circle
Great Plains Anarchist Network
Revolutionary Anti-authoritarians of Color (RACE)
South East Anarchist Network

How many of those have you even heard of before?

If all of those, combined, have, in any year, had had a membership that exceeded the membership of just one of the liberal mainstream Protestant Churches, I would be very surprised.  And many of those I've even heard of have spent more of their time attacking each other over their ideological orthodoxy or conformity than any religious sects I'm aware of.  They have produced nothing positive, they have produced damage to the real left.  Other than the Socialists, who actually elected two or so members of Congress more than ninety years ago, I don't know of any who have ever elected anyone to an office on more than the local level. I'd be curious if anyone can name such office holders.   Oh, and, as I've also written about a number of times, that's something they share with the Green Party in the United States.

The left has been led to tolerate the counter-productive, destructive, presence of these, often, anti-democratic groups out of misplaced feelings of pity for them.

In many cases the insane violence of the anarchists, the devotion to some of the worst mass murderers and dictatorships in history, the Communists, even them actually being paid agents of those foreign dictatorships - as I was disgusted to read had been proved in the case of Gus Hall - have been used to damage the real left.  I think the present day neo-atheists, many of them with an actual tie with these groups through the Stalinist trustifarian and promoter of atheism Corliss Lamont, is just a continuation of this idiocy.  The frequent claims that religion is in decline and that the future is atheist is pretty much the idiotic claim of every one of those ideological cults only replacing their anarchist - Marxist - communist - Leninist - Trotskyist - Stalinist - etc. future with atheist pie in the sky.  It will never come, if our species continues, Christianity, liberal Christianity, will be a major force long, long after every single one of their cults is a forgotten footnote in a never consulted book or website.

I don't think the left will get anywhere with the dead weight of these idiots as a burden on us.  If the "left" won't give them up, reject their historical baggage and legacy, a real left will have to rise based on successful role models based in actual liberal faith.

Monday, March 2, 2015

I Accuse Kosmin of Ideological Distortion In Creating the "Nones"

You will certainly in the next few days or weeks hear some reference to the "Nones,"  that category in the Pew surveys that is often claimed by atheists as proof-positive that they're going to win, man because the "nones" are the fastest growing group of people in the United States and.... something.  You know, the group which includes pretty much anyone who doesn't claim membership in a particular denomination of religion.   I have pointed out, many times, that, by the definitions provided by the Pew and other polling organizations, I'm considered a "none".

Well, I hadn't given a lot of thought as to who came up with the category until I came across this piece which names the man who invented the term, Barry A. Kosmin.   The piece describes him as:

...  the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and a professor at Trinity College, Kosmin had been helping to conduct the American Religion Identification Survey for nearly three decades. 

I was familiar with Kosmin for a different reason which I'll get to in a minute. 

His reasoning in coming up with the term is given as:

Once they’d evaluated data from the 1990s, Kosmin and
his team were determined to name a new category.

“Nonreligious” was a possibility. So was “non-faith” and “non-affiliated.”

But Kosmin rejected all of these. The “non” part bothered him. “Non-affiliated” would be like calling people “non-white,” he said. “We didn’t want to suggest that ‘affiliated’ was the norm, and every one else was an ‘other.’”
“Nomenclature,” he added, ” is quite important in these things.”

So Kosmin began calling this group the “nones,” a shortened version for “none of the above” — which is what people often said when asked to name their religion. He never thought the term would stick.

“It began as a joke,” he said, “but now, like many of these things, it has taken on its own life.”

Indeed. Today, “nones” are everywhere. Both in a literal sense and a literary one.

I will point out that, having looked up the dictionary meaning of the word "norm",  in the context of what Kosmin is engaged in doing, purportedly coming up with sociological and statistical information, based on the results of his own data, being religiously affiliated is the norm in the United States and, indeed, in most countries.  He might not like that but it is a fact, though like so many on his ideological side,  the actual meaning of words don't matter nearly as much as their ideological preferences.

If he had gone with the other alternatives he mentions and put only those who had no religious belief in that category, the percentage given as "Nones" would be less than half of what it generally is claimed to be and less newsy.  More of those included as "Nones" express some kind of religious belief than the percentage who are atheists, if not both atheists and agnostic combined, in most of the times I've seen a percentage break down given. 

Which gets me to how I knew of Kosmin, he's a member of the board of directors of the Center for Inquiry, one of the alphabet soup named groups begun by Paul Kurtz to promote atheism, primarily by attacking religion.  So the conflict of interest you may have suspected in his creation of that category so useful in atheist propaganda, is documented. 

Bursting The Romantic Bubble That Is The Infatuation With Communism

The point I made the other day, that liberal religion is a real part of American society with the power to make real political change whereas neither Marxism nor anarchism has ever been more than a side show is proved by simple arithmetic.   But the counting isn't easy.

Trying to keep track of the various "parties" involved in the anti-religious, atheist left is extremely difficult due to the fact that, in lieu of electoral successes and laws passed and implemented, the major events among the Marxists, the various Marxist - socialist parties and various anarchists are the "power" struggles, the ideological struggles, the furious and angry splits and formation of new parties to be the vanguard of the glorious revolution, the expulsion of members on the basis of failure to adhere to ideological purity and new lines - some of those, indeed, ordered from Moscow - and other such edifying events.   Trying to trace the genealogy of the infamously argumentative and schismatic Baptists is child's play by comparison.

Still, the highest membership figure I've seen for an American Communist party is a high estimate of 60,000, the rival Socialist party at about, 40,000.   The highest vote total, ever, for a Communist party candidate was for William Foster in 1932, at 103,307, as a contrast, the moderate  Socialist, widely despised by others of the "left" for his moderation, Norman Thomas got 884,895 and the Republican who got trounced by FDR, Hoover, 15,761,532.  I believe those were the high points in both of the officially leftists parties.  Others never achieved anything like those numbers.  Obviously, at their height, if they were religious denominations, they'd have counted as among the smaller ones.

The various factions that never approached those numbers for the least unsuccessful of the would be vanguard of the revolution, are safely ignored except in so far as they made themselves a focus of attention through violence, outrageous rhetoric, admiration for murderous dictators and the such.  Clearly those don't count as benefiting the real left.

Probably even more important in their political futility for the more genteel would be left is their gift for alienating non-members as they compete with each other to out-radical the next one or to attach themselves to leaders who do that.  The result has been political poison, more useful to reactionaries as an accusation against members of the real left than as any help to that real left.  You can contrast other, even very small religious denominations such as the Quakers in terms of who actually influenced public affairs and brought about positive change, benefiting those who were supposed to be the beneficiaries of the program of the left.  To the utter frustration of so may of the would be leaders of the new order, most poor folk, most members of oppressed minority groups, most people knew they were a bunch of bumbling idiots who would never do anything good and so they rejected their bid for leadership.   After going on a century and a half of watching that kind of thing, it's time to force their retirement so we can do something while there's still a world and there are vestiges of democracy to build on.

Update:  With a Friggin' Rebus?

I'm so glad you point out that relatively few people read my blog.  No, I really am because of the operative word in that accusation "read".  When you write a blog like mine, the only motive for people to click on to it is to READ IT. Anyone who does more than post quips and pictures, anyone who writes at even moderate length should understand that they're never going to be  big time blogger.  There's a reason that Twitter is commonly deemed to be where the real action had gone - that is "had gone."  Where "it" is now, I don't know.   As to the popularity contest among the kewl kids who are up on things, I doubt their importance.

This reminds me of one of my former favorite blogs, which we called "The Good Roger Ailes' blog" a post in which he dealt with a massive Pew study of blogs and the bloggers who blog them way back about nine years ago.  Since I remember The Good Roger Ailes with great affection - though I have to admit I seldom get around to his blog anymore, here's the section of that post I was reminded of.

Twenty percent of blogs don't use text, but only ten percent don't invite comments from readers. That means 10 percent of blogs invite comments from readers without using text. How do they do it, with a friggin' rebus?

And why did it take eight months to survey 233 readers?

I've got to make it a point to read Roger's blog more.  Get back to my roots.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bartok Sonata No.1 for Violin and Piano - David Oistrakh and Sviatoslav Richter

Unbelievable playing.  I'd love to have a cleaner recording of this performance.

The score is available at the IMSLP website but it is apparently not certainly in the public domain so I can't post the link.

Boy Do I Have A Long, Long Way To Go

The great civil rights activist and gay rights figure Reverend Malcolm Boyd has died at the age of 91.    I have to confess, I didn't realize he was still alive.   In reviewing things for my series on abolition last week, I looked through a collection of the Quaker reformer John Bellers' writings and didn't find anything on that but took the occasion to re-read his short A caution against Anger*.   For you fans of synchronicity, it was the same day that Matthew 5:20-26  on that topic was the daily reading for Catholics.  And today I find out that Boyd, who died the same day, posted this piece on his website.  It's like someone is trying to tell me something.

Rage Is Not Holy  by Malcolm Boyd

“The Devil Wears Prada” is a savagely funny movie about the imperious editor of an important fashion magazine who makes life hell for the assistants working under her—and everybody else. Success is the name of her game. It consists of using people as if they were objects. Her work style is fueled by anger, narcissism, arrogance and extraordinary self-interest.

Far more than a new movie, it becomes a morality play. Why? Because people similar to the driven editor are legion. They’re found in politics and business and the arts—and religion. Sometimes they live just up the street and around the corner. Their smiling faces are often intricately-constructed masks that effectively conceal truth.  They are enemies of peace. Their agendas and machinations endanger healthy community.

Rage is too much with us. Some people speak of “holy anger.” Rage is not holy. In all the years that I encountered Martin Luther King in myriad public situations, he was never enraged. He was demonstrative. He was impassioned. He was committed to nonviolence. Once I heard him describe nonviolence as the way one should pick up a telephone receiver to respond to a call—a simple act of wholeness and integrity instead of a big public relations gesture or a political act for the 10 o’clock news.

This is why Christians engaged in the work of social justice need to cultivate an inner spiritual life centered in prayer and quiet reflection. This is indispensable for a public life of debate, action and complex relationships. When I became a Freedom Rider in 1961 and, following the example of Martin Luther King, opposed the Vietnam War—which included participation in a Peace Mass inside the Pentagon—I sometimes neglected my inner spiritual life because of the pressure of immediate demands. At such times I veered toward self-righteousness and became shrill and angry.

I see clearly what went amiss. I denied the central place of prayerful reflection in my life. In recent years I have undertaken the task of being spiritual director for around a dozen women and men, mostly clergy, ranging in age from late twenties to early seventies. I feel that anyone involved in the work of social justice needs to be actively engaged in the discipline of centering prayer. It enables a needed perspective, integrates the inner life with the outward life, and allows humility to serve as a companion in one’s public, bigger-than-life controversies.

I like what Margaret Guenther says about spiritual direction in her book, Holy Listening. She writes, “To know in truth, then, is to allow one’s self to be known.  This is the truth that became incarnate in Jesus Christ, a truth known not in abstraction, but in relationship. The shared commitment to truth ensures that the spiritual direction relationship is one of true mutuality, for both director and directee must allow themselves to be known.”

Encouraging directees to discover and embrace their own questions, she turns to Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, where the poet urges his reader “to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.”

May I suggest this is a hugely significant moment for us to move toward spiritual perception? The process can include:

Holy listening.
Waiting consciously upon God.
Getting rid of egocentric and debilitating anger.
Moving toward prayer with a child’s innocence.
Discovering prayer as if for the first time.
Praying in new ways.
In other words, accept responsibility—even in small or personal ways—to help break the growing and killing cycle of violence, destruction and anger that turns into rage.

Published as “You and Me” column in The Episcopal News, Late Summer 2006 issue (August 2006)

I have to confess that I've got a lot of that kind of stuff in my life.  Oh, and, also, Boyd was one of those people who experienced anatheism, who went from being an atheist in his early adulthood to believing in God.  Which I've also dealt with recently.

*  I can't promise I'll do it but maybe I should type it out and post it since it doesn't seem to be available online.  If I do, I'll post a link to it.

Yes, He Was Spock, or Rather Spock Was He, But Also More

Thanks to NTodd posting an interview with the late Leonard Nimoy on Boston Public Radio, I recalled this piece I wrote back when I was still using a pseudonym.  I think most of the links still work (they're grey instead of my ususal red).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What Do You Think About Leonard Nimoy's Photos of Women who are Obese? Posted by olvlzl.

Wading through the interior decoration porn in the Sunday magazine section, there is a short interview with Leonard Nimoy about his "The Full Body Project", featuring photos of obese women. Nimoy, yes, that Leonard Nimoy, said that his series began when a woman who was very large approached him at an exhibit of his photographs and asked him if he would be interested in working with her. From that beginning he started working with the late Heather MacAllister, who was the founder and artistic director of Big Burlesque and the Fat Bottom Revue. Nimoy quotes her in an earlier article in the NYT, "Any time a fat person gets on a stage to perform and is not the butt of a joke — that’s a political statement."

With the few photos from the series I've been able to find on the web, it looks like an interesting and movingly humane project. I don't pay enough attention to high profile fashion photographers to be able to get the references to conventional pictures of emaciated women taken by them. It strikes me that the invariably bony models are depersonalized, anonymous and tragic in a way that the women in these photographs definitely are not. They strike me as real personalities instead of types. The idea of very fat people, especially women, brazenly going against the culture of thinness can't be a bad idea. While the first response is to wonder about the health implications, those are just as much a concern with the stick figures of conventional photography as they are with very over-weight people. I don't know which is worse for your health but getting over looking at obesity as a question of commercial morality has to be good.

Update: candace kindly provides the project's website, with more of the photos.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

CPAC is wall to wall:

"Do unto others as you'd never want them to do unto you." 

"Nuke your enemies and pray that they'll go to hell."

"If you have money lend it to people at usurious rates so you can take them for everything they've got and will ever have."

"Blasted are the poor."

"Blasted are the peace makers."

"Make the little children suffer so we can make money off of their incarceration."

"That which you do unto the least among you had better be as bad as you can make it." Etc.

CPAC is the embodiment of the anti-Christ 

we wish to be just as it pleased our Creator to have made us, and no avaricious and unmerciful wretches, have any business to make slaves of or hold us in slavery

It has been typical up till now to see a white face on the abolitionist movement, as if those held in slavery and who were in danger of being abducted into slavery had only a supporting role to play in resisting the institution they were the primary victims of.  That is one of the things I hope will be corrected as more primary source material becomes available online.  There must be be huge numbers of documents, written by slaves, former slaves, family and friends of slaves, black ministers, that could tell us a lot about how the most crucial obstacle to resistance to slavery was broken and the slaves, themselves, risked everything to free themselves and others held in slavery.    Here's part of one thing I've found,  from David Walker's 1829 Appeal
Oh! pity us we pray thee, Lord Jesus, Master.—Has Mr. Jefferson declared to the world, that we are inferior to the whites, both in the endowments of our bodies and of minds? It is indeed surprising, that a man of such great learning, combined with such excellent natural parts, should speak so of a set of men in chains. I do not know what to compare it to, unless, like putting one wild deer in an iron cage, where it will be secured, and hold another by the side of the same, then let it go, and expect the one in the cage to run as fast as the one at liberty. So far, my brethren, were the Egyptians from heaping these insults upon their slaves, that Pharaoh's daughter took Moses, a son of Israel, for her own, as will appear by the following.
"And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, [Moses' mother] take this child away, and nurse it for me and I will pay thee thy wages. And the woman took the child [Moses] and nursed it.
"And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said because I drew him out of the water."
In all probability, Moses would have become Prince Regent to the throne, and no doubt, in process of time but he would have been seated on the throne of Egypt. But he had rather suffer shame, with the people of God, than to enjoy pleasures with that wicked people for a season. O! that the colored people were long since of Moses' excellent disposition, instead of courting favor with, and telling news and lies to our natural enemies, against each other—aiding them to keep their hellish chains of slavery upon us. Would we not long before this time, have been respectable men, instead of such wretched victims of oppression as we are? Would they be able to drag our mothers, our fathers, our wives, our children and ourselves, around the world in chains and hand-cuffs as they do, to dig up gold and silver for them and theirs? This question, my brethren, I leave for you to digest; and may God Almighty force it home to your hearts. Remember that unless you are united, keeping your tongues within your teeth, you will be afraid to trust your secrets to each other, and thus perpetuate our miseries under the christians!!!!! ☞ Addition,—Remember, also to lay humble at the feet of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, with prayers and fastings. Let our enemies go on with their butcheries, and at once fill up their cup. Never make an attempt to gain our freedom or natural right, from under our cruel oppressors and murderers, until you see your way clear; when that hour arrives and you move, be not afraid or dismayed; for be you assured that Jesus Christ the king of heaven and of earth who is the God of justice and of armies, will surely go before you. And those enemies who have for hundreds of years stolen our rights, and kept us ignorant of Him and His divine worship, he will remove. Millions of whom, are this day, so ignorant and avaricious, that they cannot conceive how God can have an attribute of justice, and show mercy to us because it pleased Him to make us black—which color, Mr. Jefferson calls unfortunate!!!!!! As though we are not as thankful to our God for having made us as it pleased himself, as they (the whites) are for having made them white. They think because they hold us in their infernal chains of slavery that we wish to be white, or of their color—but they are dreadfully deceived—we wish to be just as it pleased our Creator to have made us, and no avaricious and unmerciful wretches, have any business to make slaves of or hold us in slavery. How would they like for us to make slaves of, or hold them in cruel slavery, and murder them as they do us? But is Mr. Jefferson's assertion true? viz. "that it is unfortunate for us that our Creator has been pleased to make us black." We will not take his say so, for the fact. The world will have an opportunity to see whether it is unfortunate for us, that our Creator has made us darker than the whites.
Fear not the number and education of our enemies, against whom we shall have to contend for our lawful right; guaranteed to us by our Maker; for why should we be afraid, when God is, and will [pg 23]continue (if we continue humble) to be on our side?
The man who would not fight under our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in the glorious and heavenly cause of freedom and of God—to be delivered from the most wretched, abject and servile slavery, that ever a people was afflicted with since the foundation of the world, to the present day—ought to be kept with all of his children or family, in slavery, or in chains, to be butchered by his cruel enemies. ☜
I saw a paragraph, a few years since, in a South Carolina paper, which, speaking of the barbarity of the Turks it said: "The Turks are the most barbarous people in the world—they treat the Greeks more likebrutes than human beings." And in the same paper was an advertisement, which said: "Eight well built Virginia and Maryland Negro fellows and four wenches will positively be sold this day to the highest bidder!" And what astonished me still more was, to see in this same humane paper!! the cuts of three men, with clubs and budgets on their backs, and an advertisement offering a considerable sum of money for their apprehension and delivery. I declare it is really so funny to hear the Southerners and Westerners of this country talk about barbarity, that it is positively, enough to make a man smile.

he typical use that David Walker's words would be put to, today, is to use his attempt to shame Christians to act as the words of the Gospel command them to do to discredit the very arguments he was making.  To expropriate his weapons against slavery for ends he never intended.  Walker was calling on slave holders  to do justice, equally and impartially to treat those they held in slavery as they would have themselves treated, using the Exodus narrative to point out the especially barbaric nature of American slavery.  To reduce his criticism of Christians who were not acting according to the teachings of Jesus into a weapon to attack Christianity would be to negate his attack on slavery.

I used to have an irrational and unfounded faith that the good things that happened in history, especially such rare hard things as the formal abolition of slavery, just, somehow happened and that, as Jurgen Habermas implied, they can happen without regard for the particular means by which they happened in history, in the places those happened.   That was a faith founded merely on a generalized sense of fairness - the idea that it could have happened anywhere if it occurred to the people, since we are all equal and a superficial knowledge of how the anti-slavery struggle happened.  But reading more of the primary material left by those who struggled and, against enormous interests, habits and even such scientific thinking as Jefferson was considered to practice, I think that the sources of their inspiration and, especially, what fueled their resolve to make the enormous sacrifice and effort cannot be pushed aside to make up some generalized assertion that those are unimportant.

I have, a number of times, pointed to the counter document to this one and all of the others I've been presenting this month, the 1865 essay written just as the forces of reaction against emancipation were gathering, by the eminent scientist and Charles Darwin's right hand man and enforcer, Thomas Huxley, in which he asserts, on the basis of natural selection, that abolition would deprive slaves of the protection of those with a financial interest in them and in a modern struggle for existence, based on brain power, they were doomed.   That argument was not a one-off, it became commonly believed in science through those promoting natural selection and its entirely accepted logical conclusion, eugenics, which early became and remained mainstream science.   The eugenics campaigns had some of their greatest successes in ending the lines of members of racial minorities, even, as I've documented, in such places as Vermont, places which, now, are entirely unaware of what was done there in the name of science, modernism and even with the pose of scientific humanism, and that it continues far after that.   I think the idea that we have outgrown the arguments that were effective in forcing legal equality in even the limited way that abolition turned out to be is grotesquely premature and uninformed.   When science can reestablish the worst of racism as it did in the late 19th and 20th centuries, when, even in the post war period, such eminent, post-Nazi era scientists as Francis Crick could campaign for legally enforced racism, calling for inequality in fact and action, we're not safe from that kind of thing.

Note:  I'm considering extending my series about eugenics into the post-war period but it's going to be a major effort and as still living people will be named it's a bit more complex than dealing with those who are safely dead and beyond legal threatening.   Reading Crick going on in letters about how reading Karl Pearson on Francis Galton was inspirational to him, in the 1970s, as he was advocating scientific racism and being lauded as a great humanist is pretty scary. Racism, inequality, is not in the past, it just changed its vocabulary and forms.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lost World: I Love Clifford Simak's Humane Science Fiction

I recommend the Simak story, A Death In The House on page 84.  Humane science fiction.  Having old magazines from my childhood online reminds me of what the mind of people who grew up reading instead of watching TV was like.

Hate Mail File

Apparently it's forbidden to point out that 83 year old men who are really sick sometimes die, especially when they have a terminal illness.   Geesh, who knew?   When is it permitted to point that out?  When they're 103? 

Leonard Nimoy's Mameloshn: A Yiddish Story

Good Lord, He was 83 And Suffering With COPD

Oh, I have a feeling Leonard Nimoy is doing just fine in the afterlife.  It's pretty funny that people don't realize he was very serious about his religion, I mean, he didn't make any secret of it.   I expect he's telling Roddenberry, I told you so. 

No one lives forever, he had a good life and did lots of good.  

Update:  The way people are going on about it.  It reminds me of the old lady who lived in her old house, her daughter wanted her to move to a retirement place and she wanted to stay in her house.

"But something might happen,"  her daughter said.

"Something always does happen," she sensibly pointed out. 

Our Radical Past Buried Alive - The Great Lane Theological Seminary Debates On Abolition

It is one of the worst parts of the collective, received amnesia Americans have about our real radical history that so little is known about the part that the Protestant mainstream churches, especially the Calvinists played in that history of real and productive radicalism.  I think it is a real radical legacy that would find more fertile ground in the United States than the romantic, when not fictitious left I've been dealing with earlier this week.  Religion is an ongoing concern in the United States, even the abducted and disappeared liberal protestant tradition that's supposed to be on life support to have the power cut any time now.  Oh, yeah, it's an ongoing concern in the way that Marxism, anarchism, various other would be radical isms, are not and have never been.

It is a real shame that no transcript of the epic debate over slavery, abolition and colonization of slaves to Liberia was kept.  Considering the massive scope of the debate, the incredible effort involved and the fact that it took place in what was, in 1834, the sticks, on the very frontier between free soil and slave power the effort is astonishing.  I would like to know of any similar effort being undertaken by college students today.  It is certainly one of the key events in the history of American abolitionism, little known today, which led, among other things, to the establishment of Oberlin College as a hotbed of abolitionism and an early center of equal education.   Here, from a pamphlet containing the speech of one of the participants, a divinity student, son of a slave owner, James A. Thome of Kentucky, with a description of the debates and other material is a description of the format of the debates.


Lane Seminary, Walnut Hill, near Cincinnati, Ohio, March 10, 1334. 

Brother Leavitt — Many of your readers are undoubtedly interested in whatever concerns this rising institution. Therefore, I send you the following. Slavery and its proposed remedies — immediate abolition and colonization, have been subjects of occasional remark among the students, since the commencement of the late term (June). A flourishing Colonization Society has existed among us almost from the foundation of the institution. Our interest in these topics increased gradually until about the first of February, when it was resolved that we discuss publicly the merits of the colonization and abolition schemes. At this time, there were but few decided abolitionists in the Seminary. The two following questions were discussed, separately : 

1st. " Ought the people of the Slaveholding States to abolish Slavery immediately?" 

2d. '"Are the doctrines, tendencies, and measures of the American Colonization Society, and the influence of its principal supporters, such as render it worthy of the patronage of the Christian public?" 

Our respected faculty, fearing the effect the discussion would have upon the prosperity of the Seminary, formally advised, that it should be postponed indefinitely. But the students, feeling great anxiety that it should proceed, and being persuaded from the state of feeling among them, that it would be conducted in a manner becoming young men looking forward to the ministry of the gospel of reconciliation, resolved to go on. The President, and the members of the faculty, with one exception, were present during parts of the discussion. 

Each question was debated nine evenings of two hours and a half each ; making forty-five hours of solid debate. We possessed some facilities for discussing both these questions intelligently. We are situated within one mile of a slaveholding State; eleven of our number were born and brought up in slave States, seven of whom were sons of slaveholders, and one of them was himself a slaveholder, till recently ; one of us had been a slave, and had bought his freedom, " with a great sum," which his own hands had earned ; ten others had lived more or less in slave States, besides several who had traveled in the midst of slavery, making inquiries and searching after truth. 

We possessed all the numbers of the African Repository, from its commencement, nearly all the Annual Reports of the Colonization Society, and the prominent documents of the Anti-Slavery Society. In addition to the above, our kind friends in the city, furnished us with Colonization pamphlets in profusion. Dr. Shane, a young gentleman of Cincinnati, who had been out to Liberia, with a load of emigrants, as an agent of the Colonization Society, furnished us with a long statement concerning the colony ; and a distinguished instructress, recently of Hartford, Connecticut, now of Cincinnati, sent us a communication from her hand, which attempted to prove, that Colonizationists and Abolitionists ought to unite their efforts, and not contend against one another. — 
These were our materials. And, sir, it was emphatically a discussion of facts, facts, FACTS. 

So, you can see, it was no "Oxford style debate" for the entertainment of the participants but a long, concerted effort by seminary students to find The Truth that would set people free.  I can't imagine the attention span of today's "reality community" extending for the first two hours.   Few facts would be involved, soundbites, factoids and slogans of common received non-wisdom would take the place of those.  It would be Stephen Fry level erudition.

The results were conclusive, almost all of the those who took part in or heard the debate came down for abolition of slavery as the only moral course to take.  They formed an anti-slavery society, the trustees of the Lane Theological Seminary cracked down, fearing a loss of financial support and involving the institution in the hottest political and financial controversy at the time - choosing the world over the soul of the institution - and about 75 our of 100 students left, a large part of them going over to Oberlin College and continuing to struggle against slavery.

I would encourage you to make you way through the pamphlet because it really is remarkable to read what the sons of slave owners concluded, obviously to their own financial disadvantage because they believed they were religiously required to take an active part in opposing slavery.  From the little I've been able to look at, the material that needs to be brought out and made known to reclaim our real radical heritage is overwhelming.  Here is a site of links to resources just for this one incident.  A few of the links don't work but most of them do.

Update:  "So the Triumph of Expediency over Right May Soon Terminate"

from  "Statement of Reasons," to which fifty-one students attached their signatures.

"Finally, we would respectfully remind the trustees, that even though students of a theological seminary, we should be treated as men—that men, destined for the service of the world, need, above all things in such an age an this, the pure and impartial, the disinterested and magnanimous, the uncompromising and fearless—in combination with the gentle and tender spirit and example of Christ; not parleying with wrong, but calling it to repentance; not flattering the proud, but pleading the cause of the poor. And we record the hope that the glorious stand taken upon the subject of discussion, and up to the close of the last session, maintained by the institution may be early resumed, that so the triumph of expediency over right may soon terminate, and Lane Seminary be again restored to the glory of its beginning.

"CINCINNATI, Dec. 15, 1834."